David Zhou has a theory: “Still talking with excitement in your voice means that a person never grows up”. If this is true, David is still very much a boy in more ways than one. There is an innocent passion in his eyes when he speaks about traditional Shanghainese food and martial arts. Although still fond of boxing, David was told he did not have the killer instinct necessary to succeed as a professional fighter; his trainer said his eyes were “too kind”. Luckily for the Melbourne dining scene, David made the switch from fighting to herbal remedies, which eventually led to him opening Oriental Tea House and David’s Restaurant.
David was raised on Nanjing Road, one of the busiest streets in Shanghai. As a child, he would wake up well before dawn, lured out the door by the smell of freshly prepared wonton soup. He would tiptoe past his sleeping mother and ride her bike into the heart of Shanghai to visit the street vendors for breakfast. Although David grew up in the city, he regularly traveled to the Chinese countryside with his mother, a renowned opera actress at the time. These trips took him to Zhouzhuang, a 1600-year-old heritage water village. David instantly felt at home, enchanted by the humble people and wholesome food.
These memories are the inspiration behind his two eateries, especially the new David’s Restaurant. Since his childhood, David has visited Zhouzhuang a number of times with his family. On these more recent visits he decided that sharing authentic, countryside Shanghai cuisine with Melbourne was his purpose. While David’s Restaurant and Oriental Tea House are vastly different, the philosophy behind them is the same: good food not only nourishes the body, it nourishes the soul.